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The Mephistopheles Media


Ary Scheffer Faust in his Study c1840
The essence of the story of Faust is simple: He is a man who sells his -future- soul to the devil in return for short term gain, for riches “now”. But years later, the devil comes to collect his prize.

Here’s a modern allegory.

In 2015 -or thereabouts- many of the mainstream media (MSM) outlets were facing dire times. Social media were taking over much of their readers’ attention, their ad revenue plummeted, and they didn’t have big stories to tell that would revert that trend. Things did not look good for the survival of CNN, New York Times or MSNBC. The Washington Post suffered the same problems, but they were owned by the world’s richest man.

And then the salvation presented itself on their doorstep in the form of Donald Trump. It’s not something they planned for, it just happened; it even took them a while to figure it out, but once they did, they went for it headfirst and all-in. How could they not? They were dying. Their finance departments told them anything negative about Trump was selling like hotcakes. And Trump willingly added to the fire.

The MSM made a Faustian pact with the devil (through his messenger Mephistopheles) for survival. And that devil was not Donald Trump, they never signed a deal with him, the devil disguised himself in the shape of clickbait, which very much has the devil’s signature, since it required them to do their “reporting” based on promoting hatred, conflict, division, anger, negativity, bitterness, resentment. All of which sells. Like nothing else. You don’t get people’s attention with happy stories, you get it by making them angry.

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Little Managers

Little Managers

Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali, Monopoly, Louisville, KY 1963

It’s funny how things go sometimes, how times roll -not just the good ones-. I said last week that all the world’s “leaders” had failed terribly, and I’m not taking that back. They all failed to a horrific extent at their no. 1 task when it comes to Disasters, Pandemics, whatever their respective governments file these events under: Prevention. But now we’re in a whole new world.

Now these failed leaders move into a situation they actually MAY be able to handle. That is, the -crisis- management that inevitably follows AFTER the failure at their no. 1 task of Prevention. They MAY be able to pull this off because it’s what they were trained to do: be little managers. You know them, because every company these days is full of them, and some will make it to biggest little manager status, through blind ambition and/or licking up to previous little managers. Some may even become government ministers. Core characteristic: these people don’t act, they re-act. Prevention is a job they’re absolutely not qualified for

Trump, Macron, BoJo, Merkel, Rutte, Xi, Abe, Conte, you name them, they’re all little managers, they’re not leaders, they have no ideas or visions, at least not original ones. People with original ideas don’t become politicians, not in the climate we have created since the 1950’s. The 20th century was poor anyway when it comes to vision, it was all about money, and no great vision has ever been derived from that.

The last century had Gandhi and Martin Luther King -and I would personally add Muhammad Ali-, and that combination says a lot about what we could have become vs what we have. In a way, the world chose money over itself. The 20th century was when Faust won, when humanity sold its soul. That it also sold its home, its planet, seems almost irrelevant compared to that.

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The Fed’s Faustian Bargain: “We’re Experiencing The End-Game Of The Great Debt Super-Cycle”

The Fed’s Faustian Bargain: “We’re Experiencing The End-Game Of The Great Debt Super-Cycle”

Echoing many of Jim Grant’s recent fearsGuggenheim Investments’ CIO Scott Minerd fears the consequences of policymakers returning to the same tools employed in the financial crisis as a grand Faustian bargain.

“In Goethe’s 1831 drama Faust, the devil persuades a bankrupt emperor to print and spend vast quantities of paper money as a short-term fix for his country’s fiscal problems. As a consequence, the empire ultimately unravels and descends into chaos. Today, governments that have relied upon quantitative easing (QE) instead of undertaking necessary structural reforms have arguably entered into the grandest Faustian bargain in financial history.

– Scott Minerd “Global CIO Outlook”, August 21, 2012

With the global economy slipping into recession and many economists estimating second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the United States will fall by 15 percent or more, the world is being confronted with the worst downturn since the 1930s.

In the post-Keynesian era, the standard policy solution to a business cycle downturn has been for governments to temporarily offset any decline in demand with increased fiscal stimulus and easy money. This prescription has provided for smaller and less frequent slowdowns. The ultimate consequence is that businesses and households have been carrying larger debt loads and smaller cash reserves, confident that policymakers will restrain the severity of the consequences created by any shock to the economy.

This process of accumulating larger debt balances after each successive downturn is often referred to as the great debt super cycle. Over the past decades, the successful use of Keynesian stabilization policies has increasingly raised the confidence of investors and creditors alike that government can successfully truncate the downside of any recession.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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